National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum

The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum is a museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States, with more than 28,000 Western and Native American art works and artifacts. The facility also has the world's most extensive collection of American rodeo photographs, barbed wire, saddlery, and early rodeo trophies. Museum collections focus on preserving and interpreting the heritage of the American West. The museum becomes an art gallery during the annual Prix de West Invitational Art Exhibition and Sale each June. The Prix de West Artists sell original works of art as a fund raiser for the museum. The expansion and renovation was designed by Curtis W. Fentress, FAIA, RIBA of Fentress Architects.

National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
LocationOklahoma City, Oklahoma, U.S.
TypeHall of fame
WebsiteOfficial site
Fountains in front of the imposing entrance to the then named National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City in May 1972.


Bulldogging photo of "Cowboy Morgan Evans", 1927 World Champion

The museum was established in 1955 as the Cowboy Hall of Fame and Museum, from an idea proposed by Chester A. Reynolds, to honor the cowboy and his era. Later that same year, the name was changed to the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Museum. In 1960, the name was changed again to the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center. The American Alliance of Museums gave the museum full accreditation in 2000, when it took on its present name.

To maintain the memory of the founder, the museum grants the Chester A. Reynolds Memorial Award. This prize is granted to a person or institution contributing to the preservation of American West history and heritage.



The museum encompasses more than 200,000 sq ft (19,000 m2) of display space. The museum's collection includes over 2,000 works of western art, the "William S. and Ann Atherton Art of the American West Gallery". The 15,000 sq ft (1,400 m2) exhibit space contains landscapes, portraits, colorful still lifes, and sculptures by 19th- and 20th-century artists. Its over 200 works by Charles Marion Russell, Frederic Remington, Albert Bierstadt, Solon Borglum, Thurmond Restuettenhall, Robert Lougheed, Charles Schreyvogel, and other early artists lead to the museum's prize collection of contemporary Western art created over the last 30 years by award-winning Prix de West artists. The first winner was a large oil by Clark Hulings, "Grand Canyon - Kaibob Trail", about a mule team barely crossing a Grand Canyon trail in deep winter snow. The collection also includes over 700 pieces by Edward S. Curtis, and over 350 from Joe De Yong, along with the large plaster sculpture of James Earle Fraser's End of the Trail.

The Hunters' Supper (detail) by Frederic Remington, circa 1909

The historical galleries include the American Cowboy Gallery, a look at the life and traditions of a working cowboy and ranching history; the American Rodeo Gallery, fashioned after a 1950s rodeo arena, provides a look at America's native sport; the Joe Grandee Museum of the Frontier West Gallery exhibits some of the more than 4,500 artifacts once belonging to Western artist Joe Grandee; the Native American Gallery, focuses on the embellishments that Western tribes made to their everyday objects to reflect their beliefs and histories; the Weitzenhoffer Gallery of Fine American Firearms houses over 100 examples of firearms, by Colt, Remington, Smith & Wesson, Sharps, Winchester, Marlin, and Parker Brothers.

The museum also houses Prosperity Junction, a 14,000-square-foot (1,300 m2) authentic turn-of-the-century Western prairie town. Visitors can stroll the streets, peek in some of the store windows, listen to antique player pianos, and actually walk into some of the fully furnished buildings. The town comes alive with historical figures once a year during the museum's annual holiday open house, "A Night Before Christmas".

The museum also is home to an interactive children's museum titled Liichokoshkomo’. Making its debut to the museum in 2020, this outdoor space, meaning “let’s play”, encompasses more than 100,000 square feet and offers hands-on learning through purposeful play and engaging activities, such as dodging a geyser, grinding corn, and loading a pioneer wagon.[1]

In September 2022, it was announced that the museum's American Rodeo Gallery would house the Professional Bull Riders Hall of Fame.[2] It opened the following year.[3]

Western Heritage Awards

"The Wrangler" in bronze

Every year, during the Western Heritage Awards, the museum awards the Bronze Wrangler, an original bronze sculpture by artist John Free, to principal creators of the winning entries in specified categories of Western literature, music, film, and television. Past winners have included Owen Wister, William S. Hart, Tom Mix, Hoot Gibson, Ken Maynard, Tim McCoy, Harry Carey, John Kent Harrison, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Tex Ritter, Rex Allen, John Wayne, Randolph Scott, Joel McCrea, Richard Widmark, James Stewart, Buck Taylor, Howard R. Lamar, Ben Johnson, Pernell Roberts, Arthur Allan Seidelman, Skeet Ulrich and Tom Selleck.

The Rodeo Hall of Fame recipients are not honored during the Western Heritage Awards. They celebrate at another event and inductees receive medallions instead of "The Wrangler".

In 1974, the western painter Arthur Roy Mitchell of Trinidad, Colorado received a special award, the "Honorary Trustee Award", having been cited as "the man who has done the most for southwestern history" through his collective art.[4]

In 1975, the gelding horse Steamboat was inducted into the Cowboy Hall of Fame. Along with Clayton Danks, the rider, Steamboat is the model of the Wyoming state trademark, Bucking Horse and Rider.[5]

Rodeo Halls of Fame

"Cowboy Morgan Evans" 1928 World Series Rodeo Contest entry chit

Rodeo Historical Society (RHS) awards the Hall of Fame awards, which are determined through voting by the society membership.[6] The museum includes three halls of fame, including the Hall of Great Westerners for actual people who lived through the frontier era to present. Other halls include the Hall of Great Western Performers, for actors only, and the Rodeo Hall of Fame.

These are a few of the members of the Rodeo Hall of Fame, followed by the year they were inducted:

Award year Name Notes
1982 Chris Lybbert Also inducted in 2006 in the ProRodeo Hall of Fame.[7]
1988 J.C. "Doc" Sorensen
1995 Dale D. Smith
2002 Bonnie McCarroll Awarded posthumously
2006 Dan Collins Taylor
2009 Cotton Rosser
2009 Reg Kesler Awarded posthumously
2013 Earl W. Bascom Awarded posthumously.[6][8]

Donald C. and Elizabeth M. Dickinson Research Center


The Donald C. and Elizabeth M. Dickinson Research Center (originally known as the Research Library of Western Americana) opened on June 26, 1965.[9] Today, the center serves as the library and archives of the museum. The center is a closed-stacks library, containing books, photographs, oral histories, and manuscripts focusing on western popular culture, western art, ranching, Native Americans, and rodeo.[10]


  1. ^ "Liichokoshkomo'". National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Retrieved 2021-11-07.
  2. ^ "National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum to Open PBR Hall of Fame". National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. 5 September 2022. Retrieved March 15, 2023.
  3. ^ "PBR Hall of Fame". Professional Bull Riders. Retrieved June 2, 2024.
  4. ^ A.R. Mitchell Museum exhibits, 150 East Main Street, Trinidad, Colorado
  5. ^ "Questions & Answers". Retrieved September 23, 2013.
  6. ^ a b "Rodeo Historical Society Announces Rodeo Hall of Fame Inductees for 2013". 2013-08-06. Retrieved 2020-01-31.
  7. ^ "Chris Lybbert". Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2020-01-31.
  8. ^ McKinlay, Michael Ann (2013-11-06). "Earl W. Bascom: LDS cowboy receives national award". Deseret News. Retrieved 2020-01-31.
  9. ^ Rand, Charles E. (2009). "About the Museum". Donald C. and Elizabeth M. Dickinson Research Center.
  10. ^ "National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum". 2010. Donald C. and Elizabeth M. Dickinson Research Center.

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